Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Success at Last!

At 8:00 on Saturday morning I was back in Bear Creek Park once more hoping to see the Greater Pewee.

Sullins Way was very quiet for birds, except for a large flycatcher on top of one of the tallest trees. Although the bird was posed against the light, it seemed clearly to be a Couch's Kingbird.

I moved over to Golbow, where two birders suggested I look for the Pewee in back of restroom #9. In return, I led them over to Sullins to show them where I had seen the Kingbird.

Back at restroom #9, a small flock of Pine Warblers, Eastern Bluebirds and Carolina Chickadees was moving through the trees.

Then a different bird appeared. Yes, the Greater Pewee!

After watching and photographing the Pewee, I headed to Sullins Way again to see if the Kingbird was still around. I didn't have any luck relocating the bird but I did get to watch a Merlin.

And, of course, the Merlin got to  watch me.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Back to Bear Creek

Last weekend, Dee and I went back to Bear Creek Park to see if we could spot the Greater Pewee. We weren't lucky but we did see quite a few other birds. One was my first-of-season Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

Pine Warblers were everywhere. This young bird seemed to be totally unaware of my presence just a few feet away.

A female House Finch was standing in a puddle, looking as she couldn't decide whether or not to bathe.

Eastern Bluebirds were constantly shuttling between branches and the ground.

Downy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers stayed well out of camera range. However, a juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker let me approach a little closer.

It shouldn't be too long before this young bird's head grows the red feathers that give the species its name.

Although I once more dipped on the Greater Pewee, I wasn't too disappointed. The bird shows no sign of moving on and so I'll try again next weekend, hopefully with more luck then!

Friday, October 26, 2012

This Week at CyFair

The dawn sky over the CyFair campus is often worth a second look.

Our resident Great Blue Heron has taken to roosting on top of the trees near the entrance to the nature trail.

There is never any shortage of Northern Mockingbirds along the trail.

Non-residents were few and far between this week, except for a couple of Eastern Phoebes.

I didn't have my camera with me when a V-formation of Greater White-fronted Geese passed noisily overhead but I did grab a shot of a flock of 30 White-faced Ibis when they flew over.

We never used to see vultures at the campus but that has changed in the past three years. We now get regular visits from Turkey Vultures, their white-edged wings making them easy to ID.

More recently, we have been seeing more and more flyovers by Black Vultures, their white wing-tips usually showing well against the blue sky.

As I write this, a cold front has just arrived in our area. I'm hoping that it will bring in some new birds - and that I'll have time to go out to look for them!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

There are few parts of birding that I enjoy more than watching and photographing Scissor-tailed Flycatchers. So the other day I took a brief lunchtime drive over to Longenbaugh Road, where there are usually plenty of these spectacular birds perched on utility wires. I wasn't disappointed!


Monday, October 22, 2012

Last Week on the CyFair Campus

Signs of fall continued to appear on the CyFair campus last week.
Early in the week our first fall Pine Warblers and Ruby-crowned Kinglets appeared around the nature trail. They were very skittish but I managed to get a couple of (just) recognizable shots.

Then a couple of House Wrens started scolding me but wouldn't stay in the open long enough for me to take photos.

The first of what I expect will be many Monarch Butterflies to visit the campus flew in, too..

For me, though, the most definite sign that fall has arrived was spotting a couple of Savannah Sparrows. What charming little birds they are!


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Bear Creek Park (3)

My drive out of Bear Creek Park took a little longer than expected because I had to stop to take photos of several raptors.

First up was a Cooper's Hawk perched high in a tree near the road.

Then I spotted a Merlin, a species I see only too rarely. As I got out of the car to take a photo, the bird flew off.

A few hundred yards further on, I noticed another Merlin in a tree set back from the road. I walked over to get a closer look and this bird was much more concerned with its grooming than with my presence.

Although I wasn't able to get a picture, there was yet another Merlin in the back of the same tree. So that was three Merlins I'd seen within a few minutes. That's certainly not something that happens to me every day!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bear Creek Park (2)

After meeting up with Jim, we spent a while looking - without success - for the Greater Pewee. We turned up several other species along the way: Pileated and Downy Woodpeckers, Tufted Titmice, House Finches, Carolina Chickadees, Brown-headed Cowbirds, more Eastern Bluebirds and a couple of Pine Warblers (below). 

In light rain we headed over to Golbow to search for Red-breasted Nuthatches, which we quickly found but which were not within camera range.

I then decided to do a final drive around the Sullins Way loop before leaving. I stopped to watch some American Crows clowning about on the grass.

I also stopped to photograph some of the many vultures that were hanging out in trees all around the loop. Some of these were Black Vultures, their gray faces blending in with the black of their plumage.

Most, however, were Turkey Vultures, with the red faces and white beaks standing out clearly against the gray sky.

Turkey Vultures may not be among the most beautiful of birds. But when they spread their wings, they are certainly very impressive.

I was to have one more interesting encounter before I left the park, but I'll leave the details and photos of that for my next blog posting.